The Washington County Departments of Public Works and Public Health and Environment, in collaboration with the Gateway Corridor Commission, conducted an HIA to examine the potential health impacts of possible land-use changes around the Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit corridor and to inform comprehensive planning of station areas in five cities—Saint Paul, Maplewood, Oakdale, Landfall, and Woodbury—that lie along the proposed project. The corridor is a planned bus-rapid transit project linking urban and suburban communities in the Twin Cities region and will act as a connector to corporate campuses, educational and commercial centers, and recreational destinations.
The HIA considered how the proposed corridor might impact connectivity, housing, jobs, and safety within the five cities. The findings show that, by focusing on land use and stakeholder engagement, the cities could improve equitable development, and the recommendations encourage establishing safe housing, sidewalks, and bike infrastructure near surrounding station areas. The HIA also included suggestions to boost community stakeholder involvement in decision-making, such as participating in local planning and zoning commissions, educating others on the connections between health and the built environment, and building partnerships between public health advocates and city planners to advance health considerations in planning processes.
The HIA was done concurrently with a Draft Environmental Impact Statement being conducted by the Gateway Corridor Commission. (This project is supported by funding from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation.)
The Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit route may be operational by 2023. Cities along the corridor now have the opportunity to prioritize health as part of their comprehensive plans.